Online Dating Etiquette
By Dr. Pepper Schwartz
I know from firsthand experience what the "Ten Commandments of Online Etiquette" should be. There are just too many nasty transgressions of common courtesy and good faith beginnings. So, here are the etiquette rules I wish everyone would live by.
Thou shalt be honest about your marital status and emotional availability
It's not nice to lie about your marital status or intentions. And, guess what? It's a lie which will get you thrown off most sites, certainly PerfectMatch.com. There are plenty of sites which are basically adultery.com. Go there if you need to and don't hurt innocent women and men who are emotionally honest and vulnerable. Remember, lying about your marital status makes you a lowly coward. Lying about your emotional availability, makes you a candidate for therapy.
Thou shalt not use a picture that no longer looks like you
This is such a waste of time. Unfortunately, even a picture which is trying to be honest is sometimes misleading. Still, remember, you know if the picture was 10 years and 40 pounds ago. Don't set up disappointment, anger and a sense of betrayal in the first 10 seconds of meeting someone. They will like who you for being honest about who you are now. No one will want you when they are expecting the person you used to be…or perhaps, never were!
Thou shalt not send too many emails to someone who has not responded
Ok, you thought the person who didn't return your email was deluded, wrong and/or a tragic mistake. Maybe so. But, three strikes and you are out. A few additional pictures, another note, but if you haven't got an answer, then leave the scene. You don't want to be seen as a stalker. And, if PerfectMatch.com sees you as one, your account will be terminated immediately.
Thou shalt not be silent upon receipt of a picture
If you ask for a picture, see it, don't like it, and then didn't respond back, you are brutish or bitchy. The least you owe the person is: "Thanks for the picture. I'm respectfully moving on." You asked and they responded. Be nice about it.
Thou shall not make up a lame excuse about why you are not going to follow up after a first coffee. Be at least a bit honest and let them learn something
Have some common decency and manners. If you meet someone and don't want to continue seeing them, drop them a line and say it was a pleasure, but they are not " the one". If there is something which really bothered you (they blew bubbles in your face, cleaned their nails at the table, never shut up, etc.), it wouldn't be awful to give them a little constructive feedback. If you don't want to do this, at least don't say something like, "…my husband and I decided to get back together…", especially if you are going to be back on the site and they can see you are still looking around. Be honest and straightforward. It's good manners and good character.
Thou shalt not take a refusal to continue personally
Not everyone in the world is supposed to be attracted to you-and vice versa. So, don't sulk. And for goodness sake, don't say anything nasty to someone who said they weren't interested in you. Move on and be gracious about it.
Thou shalt be honest about whether or not this is an exclusive or non-exclusive situation
You don't have to say anything, if your partner doesn't ask. But if you can see he or she assumes you are being monogamous when you are not, you need to set the record straight immediately. Likewise, if you agree to a monogamous relationship, do it. No one is forcing you to make the agreement. If you give your word, be honorable about it. Don't muck up a perfectly good relationship by promising something you don't mean and can't provide.
Thou shalt not assume who will pay for what
The tradition has been the man always pays for the woman. But, traditions are changing and some men are starting to feel taken advantage of. This is especially true if there is never any reciprocity, or if the dinners and outtings are extremely expensive. Women and men should discuss their values about cost sharing early on.
Thou shalt be honest about whether or not you are every going to actually see the person you are corresponding with
There are a certain number of people who email back and forth forever, and never show up anywhere. That's not ok. The vast majority of people on PerfectMatch.com are looking for love and a lifetime soul mate. Having cold feet in the beginning is understandable. But, emailing and never connecting is dishonest. It hurts the person who trusted you to be serious about getting together if the emails went well. Cyberspace is a vehicle, not a destination.
Thou shalt not whisper promises and endearments and then disappear
Just because it is possible to disappear into Cyberspace without a trace, doesn't mean you ought to let yourself do it. Don't be romantic and promise the moon just because you know you won't have to actually deliver on what you said. Being a cyber-tease hurts people, and even damages their ability to trust in the real thing. Be honest, and be careful about what you say.
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